Mark Juergensmayer Why Guys Throw Bombs
blem that leads in some cases to hostility. It is angeragainst sex out of place that is often evident in thetargets of violence, such as abortion clinics and gaybars. At other times the violence itself has had sexual overtones, as in India and Algeria, where the rape of women has been employed as part of a terrorist act, orin Ireland, where torture of enemies has involved mu-tilation of the men’s genitals–literally, in some cases,emasculating them.What is the connection between these forms of vi-olence, this macho religiosity, and these yearnings forpolitical power? The antipathy toward modern women–the notion of female sexual roles out of place–is oneclue. The hatred of homosexuality is another. It is truethat the disdain of homosexuality has been a theme of conservative religion for centuries and was one of thecriticisms that the religious opponents of the Enligh-tenment leveled against the values of secular morali-ty in eighteenth-century France.
But it has returnedwith a peculiar stridency in contemporary religious cul-tures of violence, where the fear of homosexuality–ho-mophobia–has been a prominent theme.Virtually all radical religious movements of the ﬁnal decades of the twentieth century have had a homo-phobic twist. In 1999 a gay couple was killed in nort-hern California and gay bars were attacked allegedly byChristian Identity activists. Gays were included amongthe “mudpeople” that Benjamin Smith hoped to destroyin his 1999 Illinois rampage, and The Turner Diariesdescribed homosexuality as a kind of aberration that“healthy males” would not consider.
Some have goneso far as to misquote the Bible in prescribing “the pe-naltys [sic] for race-mixing, homo-sexuality [sic], andusury” as “death.”
The gay subculture of Tehran wasone of the facets of modern Iranian life that angeredAyatollah Khomeini, and hundreds associated with itperished following the Islamic revolution in Iran. Theacceptance of homosexuality in secular Israeli societyhas dismayed right-wing Jewish activists, who offeredthe rumors of Yasir Arafat’s alleged penchant for boysas evidence of the moral corruption of Palestine’s lea-dership.
In Belfast, one of Ian Paisley’s main criticisms of liberal Protestantism is its acceptance of gays. “Les-bianism, homosexuality held up as taught in the Bibleand to be practiced by Christian people,” he thunderedin one of his sermons, “think of it!”
Along the samelines, one of Paisley’s complaints about Catholic clergyis that they never marry, a matter of some suspicionto the arch-heterosexual Paisley. Regarding salvation,for instance, he assured his parishioners that the Pro-testant method was much more efﬁcacious than theCatholic, in large part because of the morally suspectnature of the clergy. “You do not need to kneel at aconfessional box,” Paisley told them, “before a bache-lor priest who has more sins than you have and yetpretends to forgive you.”
Kerry Noble said that his group, the Covenant, theSword, and the Arm of the Lord, regards American ci-ties to be like Sodom and Gomorrah largely becausethey harbor homosexuals.
Noble said that one of theturning points in his disaffection with the ChristianIdentity movement was when he entered a gay churchin Kansas City with the intention of igniting a bombhe was carrying in his briefcase, and decided not to doit. After looking around and seeing men embrace othermen, watching women kiss other women, and hearingthe preacher speak about his male lover, Noble hesi-tated. He had second thoughts about the loss of lifethat would have resulted–at least ﬁfty would have beenkilled–and he also questioned the effectiveness of thebombing. It would not, he reasoned, precipitate the re-volution that he had hoped for. It was only later, afterhe had rejected the ideology and the personal ties toChristian Identity, that he also abandoned his homo-phobia and saw gays as scapegoats for what he and hisgroup had regarded as society’s immoralities.Rev. Michael Bray told me that the seculargovernment’s tolerance for abortion and homosexuali-ty were the two marks of its moral degeneracy. Consi-dering Bray’s prejudices, it is interesting to note thatwhen Bray was sent to prison for bombing abortionclinics, he was placed in the same cell with a pedophileconvicted of preying on boys. Bray and his cellmatebecame fast friends, Bray told me, but only after thepedophile repented of his sins. Still, the man acknow-ledged to Bray that his sexual inclination toward youngmen persisted. When Bray refused to take part in a pri-son prayer meeting with an out-of-the-closet gay pri-soner who was unrepentant about his sexuality, this ledto tensions within the cell. His cellmate became angryand accused Bray of being antigay. Bray tried to assurehis cellmate that same-sex attractions were understan-